One of my absolute favourite things about winter in Ibiza is the ritual of hitting the markets and second-hand showrooms on the weekends. You really never know what you’re going to come home with – even when I leave the house with a very clear intention of what I’m searching for, I always arrive home clutching an array of weird and wonderful things that very rarely match up to my original shopping list! Take last weekend for example. I wanted to buy a new heater. Simple enough really.
The Saturday San Jordi flea market in the Hippodrome is usually a good place for these kinds of things; at this time of year, many people are leaving the island for the winter and sell off their near-new possessions as they clear out their homes and try and squish an entire season’s worth of accumulated items into one 20-kilo suitcase. And if you fail to find what you’re after, there’s an electrical goods store about a two-minute drive from the market – it’s win win really. So off I went to the market – it was a glorious sunny day and the muddy car park resembled the DC-10 parking lot on a Monday in August it was so busy (there were even Guardia Civil in attendance!). I knew this was going to be a good market day.
I jostled my way into the market to meet my friend Miss A – thankfully she’s super tall and strikingly blonde, so was very easy to spot amongst the throngs of eager shoppers. Saturdays at San Jordi really are a very social occasion – there’s a cool little bar, a nice man making sausage sandwiches to sop up any hangovers from Friday night, plus there’s the tantalising sweet wafts of air coming from the churro truck, there’s always a DJ on makeshift decks on the terrace blasting out tech-house and of course, there’s the wall of bongo drummers creating the hypnotic kind of beats that put you in a shopping trance. And you are almost certainly guaranteed to bump into absolutely everyone you’ve ever met during your time in Ibiza.
Especially if you have no make-up on and haven’t brushed your hair… but I digress. After more than a decade of navigating this market, I have developed a method to ensure I don’t miss a single stall. I have other friends who just meander around aimlessly, chatting and talking and air-kissing their way around the dusty sports ground, but not me. I’m always on a mission. I double around the two outside laps before criss-crossing the inside lanes on a clockwise rotation. Trust me – it works. I don’t mind stopping for a catch-up, just as long as you don’t divert me from my shopping route. Aside from sticking to my route, my only other rule is – don’t think; just buy. If you see something you like, don’t think about it or say you’ll come back later. Chances are, it will be gone or you’ll forget what it was!
So there we were, Miss A and I, ready to go into market battle. I had a heater on my mind but it really was rather warm and within 50 metres I’d found some retro-style macramé plant hangers that I simply had to have and had forgotten about my need to combat the coldness in my house completely. A little further around the bend I found some vintage Italian leather boots that were très chic and indeed my size, although they were way too high for me to actually walk more than about five metres in. Sold! They’d look fantastic on my feet as I sat in my cold apartment beneath my new plant hangers. In the next aisle, I stumbled across a man selling all types of paperback novels in English.
There was no rhyme or reason to the selection on offer – it was as if he owned an Airbnb or boutique hotel and was offloading all the books his varied clientele had left behind. Now, I know if you live in a city, books (in your own language) are everywhere. But here in Ibiza, it’s rare to find actual books that you WANT to read. And yes, I know, I know, with Kindles and iPads and the internet and all that, every great literary tome ever written can be at my fingertips – literally – within seconds, but it’s just not the same as turning pages in a book. Call me old fashioned – and quite possibly a sucker, because I bought quite a few different titles without even reading the back covers. But at 2€ a pop… you can’t go wrong!
Now we were on the inside track and some eclectic, antique paintings and prints caught my eye. A flaking, watermarked and faded print of one of the American painter Cherry Jeffe Huldah’s works jumped out at me – its impressionist-like qualities having faded with age, the doe-eyed female subject now appearing more like a spectre. As anyone who knows my fascination with the macabre will guess by now – I was (again) sold. Another quirky piece of art found its way into my hands within minutes – a Japanese weave featuring two deer beneath a cherry blossom tree in a shiny bronze frame.
I have to admit – my hands and bags were quite full at this point, but it didn’t stop me from stopping to smell the roses (literally) at one man’s plant stall, and walking away with a four-foot banana palm in my possession. I should have stopped there. I really had no hands left. But a lonely set of mounted deer antlers basically called out to me and I just had to give them a good home. I reasoned with myself that it was the closest I would come to seeing reindeer this Christmas and that’s how Prancer (as he is now known) came home with me too. That was the trickiest part of course – actually getting my eclectic haul home. As many of our readers will know, I live high up in Dalt Vila, where you can’t drive directly to your front door and so I needed to precariously balance all my new purchases as I tottered down the cobbled streets to my house! Of course… I could have done two trips, but where’s the fun in that?
Now as Saturday rolls around again, I’m getting excited at the prospects of what another market trawl could yield. Last week’s purchases came in at the grand total of 60€ but I had the same retail therapy satisfaction as if I’d spent 500€ (actually, probably more as I didn’t beat myself up about buying expensive things I didn’t need. And anyway, you ALWAYS need deer antlers). No two market weeks are ever alike and so, every Saturday morning in winter I bound out of bed early like a kid on Christmas day, eager to get there and see what the catch of the day can be! Speaking of Christmas, as the silly season is upon us there are more markets than ever before to hit before the big day arrives.
There’s the San Juan artisan market on a Sunday, the iconic Las Dalias on Saturdays (and in the evenings closer to Christmas), the four-day Christmas market extravaganza at Casa Maca, the Christmas markets at Atzaró, the quaint Christmas markets that have returned to Vara de Rey in Ibiza town, the pop-up markets at Can Pere Mussona and the food market at Sluiz. But for me, San Jordi will always be the epitome of authentic market shopping in Ibiza. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, or so they say… and my freezing cold but beautifully bohemian living room is testament to that! (Note to self: must buy heater tomorrow)